Archive for October, 2009

House of Death

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

tn_houseofdeathHOUSE OF DEATH
aka DEATH SCREAMS, apparently
but not to be confused with HOUSE OF THE DEAD, DEATH HOUSE or BLOODBATH IN THE HOUSE OF DEATH

My search for decent slasher movies of the ’70s and ’80s that I haven’t seen yet continues, but I decided I needed a shorter way of saying “my search for decent slasher movies of the ’70s and ’80s that I haven’t seen yet,” and MSFDSMOT78TIHSY looks too much like a confirmation number or one of those codes you have to type in when you’re buying tickets online or posting comments on Drew McWeeny’s blog. And I couldn’t come up with anything good so instead I just came up with “Slasher Search” and made a logo. Live with it.slashersearch

This one’s from ’82, another quick cash-in on FRIDAY THE 13TH, but I guess it’s more passable than that last one FINAL EXAM. I guess. The problem this time is not that stuff doesn’t happen, it’s that it’s hard to understand what the stuff is. (read the rest of this shit…)

Zombieland

Friday, October 9th, 2009

tn_zombielandMan, ZOMBIELAND was just begging for me to hate it. You know how picky I am about the balance between horror and comedy. And who the fuck makes a zombie comedy now? It feels exactly like that moment when somebody’s dad makes a reference to their favorite band from three grades ago, like he’s just catching on but he thinks he’s on the cutting edge. I was already sick of people talking about zombie movies back when SHAUN OF THE DEAD came out, and to be frankly honest even that one I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about.

I would’ve been even more skeptical if I had read up on it before seeing it, because I would’ve known it was written originally as a TV show by reality show producers trying to cash in on the “fast zombie” love during that couple weeks after the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake came out. It’s two writers and one of them says he’d only seen a couple zombie movies before (didn’t specify which ones), the other one had only seen SHAUN OF THE DEAD. And the director isn’t big on them either and had only done commercials before. (read the rest of this shit…)

Eyes of a Stranger

Friday, October 9th, 2009

tn_eyesofastrangerI found EYES OF A STRANGER (1981) with the mystery and suspense movies at the video store. That got me thinking – how exactly do you draw the line between a thriller and a slasher movie? Is it because this guy’s a rapist, not just a killer? Is it because he’s not supernatural, deformed, masked or a redneck? You could say that about MANIAC too, but I think we all agree that’s a horror movie. Both have effects by Tom Savini, too. But MANIAC is way gorier, and the killer gets way more screen time. He’s the central character. Here the killer is often sneaking around just off camera, unseen, keeping us on a thread until he suddenly attacks, like Michael Myers. So if you’re watching a movie where there’s a killer like Michael Myers, but without a mask and not supernatural, that’s suspense. Except SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE. It’s horror if it has ‘massacre’ in the title I believe is the rule.

Ah, shit. I don’t know how it works. But EYES OF A STRANGER is a good thriller about a slasher. (read the rest of this shit…)

Final Exam

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

tn_finalexamThis year it was a rough start to my annual October quest for decent slasher movies of the ’70s and ’80s that I haven’t seen before. I checked the horror sections at the video store for VHS tapes, figuring if it’s not on DVD yet it’s gotta be obscure. The one I picked though was BLOOD LAKE. I was working on the theory that if it has “lake” in the title it must be a FRIDAY THE 13TH rip-off and therefore the kind of thing I’m looking for. Maybe something derivative but fun like THE BURNING. Wrong. I put it in and turned it off in about 20-30 seconds when I realized it was shot on camcorders. Sorry, I gotta draw a line somewhere. Affordable video cameras may have been democratizing… or maybe they were the first step toward anarchy.

So it was back to the drawing board. I abandoned the VHS idea and went for a school-themed slasher on DVD, a way to ease my transition from my September back-to-school reviews to October’s horror avalanche. FINAL EXAM is one the company BCI dug up and flopped onto DVD. I never heard of it, but it was shot on real film. Isn’t that professional? I was impressed. (read the rest of this shit…)

Whip It

Monday, October 5th, 2009

tn_whipitYou know how it is. You have low self-esteem, or you have to move alot so you don’t do good in school, or you do do good in school but people pick on you, or you get kicked out of school, or you don’t get along with your parents, or you don’t have any parents. But then you find out about breakdancing or karate or illegal street racing or lambada (the forbidden dance) or civil war re-enacting or vegetarianism or whatever. Your eyes are opened to an exciting new world, you meet colorful new friends and rivals, you work real hard and train and almost give up but you have to prove something to somebody or to yourself or to both, so you go to the big tournament or championship or whatever. Well, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut WHIP IT is about a girl finding herself through roller derby, and I was hoping it would be a little smarter version of that type of story. A generic plot that manipulates you in an obvious but enjoyable way, and that pays tribute to a sport I happen to enjoy. Like, say, DRUMLINE with girls on rollerskates. Or BRING IT ON with tattoos. That’s all I was hoping for, but WHIP IT turns out to be way better than I was hoping. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jennifer’s Body

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

tn_jennifersbodyWell, I don’t think it’s gonna last too long in theaters, so I wanted to hurry up and say a few things about JENNIFER’S BODY. That’s the new-a-couple-weeks-ago horror movie directed by Karyn Kusama (GIRLFIGHT and AEON FLUX), written by Diablo Cody (JUNO), and starring Amanda Seyfried (MEAN GIRLS, MAMMA MIA). You may be saying wait a minute, number one you said horror but those are all girl names, what in the hell is going on here, and #2 I never heard of a movie called JENNIFER’S BODY that came out in the ’70s or ’80s, so what did they remake this from? Is it a comic book?

Nope, it’s not an adaptation of anything, and it’s a little different from most of the other horror pictures that come out now because it’s from a girl point-of-view and it’s about relationships between girls. It’s not about something easy to sell like isn’t it fucked up how there is no hope at all or remember how there was a movie that had this same title before, well I know you never saw that one but what about seeing this guys, thanks. So Fox Atomic (who I thought got closed down already) panicked and aimed all of the advertising at male boners, basing it entirely around the other star, Megan Fox. The implied tagline is “get out the lotion fellas, it’s Megan Fox.” They didn’t even have Diablo Cody’s name on the trailer, let alone “from Academy Award winning screenwriter Diablo Cody.” So don’t blame her for the movie not selling tickets. (read the rest of this shit…)

Only the Strong

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

tn_onlythestrongLadies and gentlemen, I present to you the best find of my Back To School Special. Maybe THE SUBSTITUTE is better, but I’d already seen that one before so I knew what to expect. This is a surprisingly natural hybrid of the inspirational teacher movie with the American martial arts star vehicle. It embraces the necessary corniness of both genres and seems a little more sincere about the turning kids around aspect than THE SUBSTITUTE does. And it came out in ’93, three years earlier.

It stars American IRON CHEF host Mark Dacascos and it’s directed by long-time Van Damme collaborator Sheldon Lettich. This is his third directational work after LIONHEART and DOUBLE IMPACT. Dacascos plays Louis Stevens, a peace time Green Beret who fell in love with the martial art capoeira while stationed in Brazil. He was apparently some kind of troublemaking kid until a good teacher named Mr. Kerrigan (EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE sidekick Geoffrey Lewis) turned him around and convinced him to join the military. Once he gets out he returns to the school to see if there’s any way he can work there and try to make a difference in other young people’s lives. The school is a hellhole and he pretty much gets tossed out on his ass. (read the rest of this shit…)